Trip to Lyon holds no more fears for Madrid

Real Madrid return to familiar territory on Wednesday when they face Lyon, looking for a win that would seal their place in the Champions League knockout stages with two games left in Group D.

Updated: November 01, 2011 22:01 IST
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Lyon: Real Madrid return to familiar territory on Wednesday when they face Lyon, looking for a win that would seal their place in the Champions League knockout stages with two games left in Group D.

Ever since a mid-September slip that saw them take just one point from two league games -- a full-blown crisis for a club as big and as closely scrutinised as Madrid -- Jose Mourinho's side have won eight games in a row in all competitions, scoring an impressive 29 goals in that time.

Such form has seen them go top of La Liga on their own for the first time in a year, and means they will arrive in France confident of beating Lyon on their own ground for the first time.

The arrival of Mourinho at the helm has already helped the nine-time European champions overcome their Lyon hoodoo, with a 4-1 aggregate win in the last 16 last season being followed by an embarrassingly easy 4-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu two weeks ago.

Now they are looking to maintain their perfect record in the group stages with a win that would allow Mourinho to rest players in their final games against Dinamo Zagreb and Ajax.

There is the small matter of a league showdown with Barcelona at home in mid-December, so the prospect of being able to rotate his squad in midweek European games is motivation enough for Mourinho.

In the meantime, the 'Special One' has decisions to make.

Does he drop Mesut Ozil, who has appeared subdued in recent games, and hand a start to in-form Kaka? And who gets the nod in attack between Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema?

The Real-obsessed Madrid media have had so little to worry about in recent weeks that endless amounts of column inches have been devoted to which one of the two strikers should lead the line.

Higuain -- who scored the only goal in Saturday's win at Real Sociedad -- believes the club's fans should simply savour being able to call on both players.

"It is great for everyone that the two of us are here. We get on well - every time one of us replaces the other we hug. I am happy for Karim because he deserves it. He is a great player and the fans should be delighted to have us," he said.

Mourinho may opt to start Benzema against his former club, at the venue where he scored in the last 16 first-leg last season.

Lyon come into this game buoyed by back-to-back wins against local rivals Saint-Etienne in the last week, first in the League Cup and then in the league, and are now chasing a result that would boost their chances of reaching the tournament's knockout stage for a ninth season running.

Injuries to Michel Bastos and Lisandro Lopez have seriously weakened Remi Garde's options in attack, but Yoann Gourcuff is back to fitnesss, and OL have not lost at home in any competition in over a year.

Their top scorer Bafetimbi Gomis sees no reason to fear the Spanish giants.

"I don't think the gulf is as wide as it seemed over there (in Madrid) so now it's up to us to show our pride and belief," he told

"Their team hasn't changed that much, they have world-class players and a coach who has a strong personality, and who is a good fit for them.

"Madrid have good individual players up front - they are a great team that have been put together to win the competition.

"We are not exactly seeking revenge because I think they fully deserved their win (two weeks ago).

"I don't think it was a decisive game, it hasn't jeopardised our chances of qualifying.

"Now we need to be competitive and try and get at least one point, in order to keep on moving towards qualification."

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  • Football
  • Mesut Özil
  • Xabi Alonso
  • Real Madrid
  • Real Sociedad
  • Lyon
  • Gonzalo Higuaín
  • John Terry

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